Friday, September 16, 2005

RACISM? Socialist Worker published story about white sheriffs keeping blacks in New Orleans?

Dept. of Media . Washington City Paper: "A Bridge Too Far
by Jason Cherkis and Erik Wemple
The print media get picky about a story involving police forcing evacuees back into New Orleans.
Soon after the floodwaters engulfed New Orleans, reporters chronicled the thousands trapped at the Superdome, trapped at the convention center, and trapped on rooftops. As the days passed, news consumers had to wonder: Why couldn�t citizens just hike out of the city to the nearest patch of dry land?"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Free Press : By the numbers: In Katrina's wake, race and class largely ignored

Free Press : By the numbers: In Katrina's wake, race and class largely ignored

"From Think Progress, September 7, 2005

By Jack Cafferty, CNN, 9/01/05

ThinkProgress conducted a review of transcripts from the three major cable news networks over a full week Saturday, Auguest 28 to Saturday, September 3 for coverage of the race and class issues exposed in Katrina's wake. The data demonstrates clearly that all three networks are still, to a greater or lesser extent, ignoring the elephant in the room.

The Findings, By the Numbers:

0: Number of segments in which race or class issues were the primary or substantial focus, over four days, 8/28-8/31, on all three networks.

22: Number of segments (of roughly 1,300 total) in which race or class issues were the primary or substantial focus over the full seven-day period on all three networks."

Chicago Tribune story examines financial success of NPR

Society of Professional Journalists: "NPR prospers, walled off from Wall Street
ORIGINAL SOURCE:,1,2647923.column?coll=chi-navrailbusiness-nav&ctrack=1&cset=true


Wall Street probably would be impressed by a media outfit that managed to double its weekly audience from 13 million to 26 million in a little more than six years. Yet the folks who run National Public Radio insist it's because they don't have to impress Wall Street that they've been able to increase their listenership and, with it, revenue through listener contributions, sponsorships, and foundation support. 'The paradigm we live in is different from having to report quarterly bottom-line results that would drive a stock price up,' Kevin Klose, NPR's president and CEO, said Tuesday. 'That's a different place to be, especially when maximizing profit is such a huge driver in the news business.' While the radio world has contracted in upon itself through consolidated ownership and copycat formats, public radio has only become more distinct, important and valuable. It looms ever larger on the U.S. dial simply as guardian of its niche. It's expanding its news operation at a time when most others are cutting back. It's in the midst of a $15 million, three-year plan to add 45 staffers and open new bureaus, including one in West Africa. But more important, listen to an NPR program for 30 seconds and you know you're listening to NPR. Unlike its TV cousin, PBS, whose specialties have been cloned by cable networks that siphon off the viewers underwriters want to reach, it's tough to argue NPR is redundant.

Source: Phil Rosenthal, The Chicago Tribune

BACKGROUND: San Francisco Bay Guardian story on the "Projected Censored" list for 2004-2005

Free Press : Censored!

Original at:


Every year project researchers scour the media looking for news that never really made the news, publishing the results in a book, this year titled Censored 2006. Of course, as Project Censored staffers painstakingly explain every year, their “censored” stories aren’t literally censored, per se. Most can be found on the Internet, if you know where to look. And some have even received some ink in the mainstream press. “Censorship,” explains project director Peter Phillips, “is any interference with the free flow of information in society.” The stories highlighted by Project Censored simply haven’t received the kind of attention they warrant, and therefore haven’t made it into the greater public consciousness.

“If there were a real democratic press, these are the kind of stories they would do,” says Sut Jhally, professor of communications at the University of Massachusetts and executive director of the Media Education Foundation.

Project Censored will celebrate the release of Censored 2006, the annual issue of the most significant undercovered news stories of the year. The Book Release Celebration will be held in the Cooperage at Sonoma State University, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, CA, October 22, at 7:00 to highlight this year’s censored news and to honor the investigative reporters who brought it forward, including Dahr Jamail, Pratap Chatterjee, Greg Palast, and many more. Norman Solomon, syndicated media critic will keynote the event, joined by David Rovic, political songwriter and musician.
The Censored 2006 Top 25 Censored Stories reveal the Bush Administration’s unprecedented secrecy, unreported war crimes and civilian death toll in Iraq, election fraud 2004, and other stories. The evening will include a pre event reception with authors, journalists, publishers, and Project Censored, book signing,
This event will be televised and is cosponsored by Media Alliance, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and the Nation Institute. Admission $10. Contact: Suze CribbsProject Censored707-664-3166

IDEA: Newspapers may give flat screens to readers to save cost of paper, ink, delivery

EXCERPT FROM: Craigslist is just the beginning of newspapers' technological torment by John : Burke:

"Another seemingly futuristic yet nonetheless actual view of newspaper business models is offered by Jeff Mignon, CEO of the New York based media consulting firm 5-W Mignon Media. In a short essay of what his ideal newspaper would look like, Mignon starts by clarifying that it's not a 'paper' but an A4-sized flexible plastic screen. He skips nicely through the criteria that the screen should feature including color, video and sound capabilities, Internet connection as well as Wi-Fi and mobile phone compatibility, infrared keyboard and electric pen, etc. Essentially, he describes a PC you can role up and throw in your pocket. But here's the real kicker: this screen is provided to the consumer free of charge by a major newspaper! Mignon uses the example of the New York Times. He says that the Times would ultimately profit from such a move because it would eliminate fees for paper, ink and physical distribution. Of course, since the New York Times would hand out the screen, its news would be prioritized. But the Times must allow RSS feeds from thousands of other papers and blogs, giving readers easy access to other channels just like the Internet does. And certainly, banner ads would be prevalent, but they would be personalized, allowing readers to choose the topics of advertisements they would like to see. Payment for this service? A mere monthly fee tacked on to your mobile phone bill allowing for unlimited access to content."

ACCESS: Despite Bush comments, Army still ordering reporters away from body recoveries

Access still being denied media in New Orleans

A long caravan of white vans led by an Army humvee rolled Monday through New Orleans' Bywater district, a poor, mostly black neighborhood, northeast of the French Quarter. Recovery team members wearing white protective suits and black boots stopped at houses with spray painted markings on the doors designating there were dead bodies inside. Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body-recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state. "No photos. No stories," said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret. On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims. But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that policy wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had its own policy, which requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

Source: Cecilia M. Vega, The San Francisco Chronicle

A long caravan of white vans led by an Army humvee rolled Monday through New Orleans' Bywater district, a poor, mostly black neighborhood, northeast of the French Quarter. Recovery team members wearing white protective suits and black boots stopped at houses with spray painted markings on the doors designating there were dead bodies inside. Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body-recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state. 'No photos. No stories,' said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret. On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims. But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that policy wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had its own policy, which requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

Source: Cecilia M. Vega, The San Francisco Chronicle"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

PUBLIC ACCESS: Study: Journalists Face Long FOIA Delays - Yahoo! News

Study: Journalists Face Long FOIA Delays - Yahoo! News

EDUCATION: Des Moines reader's challenge: How to fix dying newspapers?

SOURCE: Columbia Journalism Review, May 2005

The (Educated) Reader

By Ralph Gross

Ralph Gross is a wealth management advisor and lives in Des Moines. He is a Trustee of the Des Moines Art Center, and a Director of the Des Moines Library Foundation and Easter Seals of Iowa.

The editor’s invitation read, “Help us put out a better newspaper . . . . The Des Moines Register is your paper and ours . . . . that’s why we have the Reader Advisory Board.” The editor said he wanted to be held “accountable for being the best paper we can be. Critique us. Question us.”

The offer sounded perfect. I have read the Register since I moved to Des Moines in 1962 to go to college, and had always liked the paper. But in recent years I had become a critic, driven by a belief that the paper wasn’t as good as it used to be.

Impressions are subjective, but having been the subject of several stories over the years I believed that the paper always took great care to be fair and accurate. Its reporting reflected not only a working knowledge of the subject but often an understanding of sometimes-subtle historic relationships. It took its watchdog function seriously, and I also relied on it to provide a variety of well-thought-out opinions on issues that affected my quality of life.

In some ways the Register, purchased by Gannett in 1985, remains a good paper. It has always been, and continues to be, a champion of open public meetings and public records, and it ran a great exposé on local law enforcement and county attorneys, which was a finalist for a 2005 Pulitzer. But the paper whose motto is “The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon” no longer has daily statewide distribution, and circulation has declined. Its local coverage lacks the depth and breadth of not so long ago. The Register was once a destination paper for journalists; now it’s a stepping-stone.

So, in July 2003 I applied for an appointment to the Register's Reader Advisory Board.

There were thirty of us on the board, from all walks of life — an FBI agent, two pork producers, a lawyer, a journalism student, a retired school superintendent, a surgeon, a union representative, a bus driver, a manufacturing executive. At our first meeting in September 2003, new members were asked why they had volunteered. Paul Anger, the paper’s editor and vice president, offered to answer questions. When my turn came, I said, “Thirty years ago I would pass in front of the Register building and with great pride read a display that said: ‘The Des Moines Register has won more Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting than any other newspaper except one. Congratulations, New York Times.’” Then, addressing Anger and Richard Tapscott, the paper’s managing editor, I asked, “Would you describe what plan is in place to reestablish the Register to the level of excellence it once

Without hesitation Tapscott replied, “We have a list of the Pulitzer Prizes and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoons on display in the newsroom to serve as inspiration.”

Anger added, “You can’t run a newspaper to win Pulitzers,” which effectively ended the discussion. Thus began my two-year odyssey on the advisory board.

The monthly meetings consisted of an announced agenda, usually a Register employee describing his or her job and answering questions, with time for board members’ comments, suggestions, and story ideas. I liked being on the board. But I also wanted answers to questions that had nagged me for the last fifteen or so years.

For instance, I was disappointed when the Register discontinued subscribing to the New York Times wire service. When I said so, Anger acknowledged that the paper’s content had suffered as a result, and said that the paper was trying to get “just the editorial stuff back,” but as of this writing nothing has happened on that front.

And what was the thinking when, on October 27, 2004, the Register endorsed a congressional candidate whom the editorial page had described less than a month earlier as “a national embarrassment”? Anger said the rationale was to “move the editorial page more to the center.”

When the paper created Community Publications in October 2003 — basically zoned editions — it told its readers that the new editions would be practicing “be there” journalism. “‘Be there’ means we’re not just reading city council minutes on the Web,” said the editors, “we’re sending a reporter, someone who’ll look deep into the minutes and dig for what is happening down to the neighborhood level.” But in one of the meetings I asked why there was no dateline on the political columnist’s coverage of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. I was flabbergasted to learn that he had covered it from his home. (The Register did send two reporters to the convention.)

In still another instance, when a regional mall opened in suburban Des Moines last year, I was embarrassed by the Register's fawning coverage. At least one of the paper’s columnists took note: “The place hasn’t opened yet and people already roll their eyes when you mention Jordan Creek Mall. One guy wanted to know if the Register is going to open a Jordan Creek bureau and have a staff covering nothing but the mall. I started to laugh, but I held off until I checked it out.”

Upon hearing of my appointment to the advisory board, a journalist friend gave me a copy of The Elements of Journalism, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. Turns out that many of the same issues that had piqued my curiosity about journalism and the Register have been debated among professional journalists for the last two decades. One of these, I discovered, is the effect that the pressure for ever-higher profits has on the quality of the journalism: less news, less investigative reporting, less state and judiciary coverage. All things I had noticed in the Register over the years. All this is surely familiar to cjr readers, but it isn’t to most news consumers.

I felt energized. I gave each board member a copy of the book, noting that it might serve as a baseline from which to judge the Register. And at each meeting I raised the same concern with the editors — address the tradeoffs you make between keeping your readership informed and increasing corporate profit margins. But no one seemed to want to discuss it.

So, in January 2005 I wrote a letter to the editor laying out my concerns about the Register, and asking the paper to discuss the issue of quality-versus-profits with readers. I hand-delivered my letter fifteen minutes before the next board meeting. After reading the first few lines, though, Paul Anger said, “I don’t agree with this.”

“I didn’t know that was a prerequisite for publication,” I said.

We smiled politely at each other.

The letter was not published. But I was serious about what had happened to my hometown newspaper and decided to take out four quarter-page ads asking readers to communicate their concerns about diminished quality directly to the editor. Friends had offered to help pay for the ads, which I was told would cost $10,000.

I thought the ads would carry more clout if I could get some board members to sign on, so I e-mailed each member a copy of the ad and asked if they would allow me to use their names.

Some said they liked the paper, citing among other things the short summaries of complex issues and the generous use of photos throughout. One replied with an emphatic “no” and copied his response to the editor. Some board members agreed to have their names appear in the ad. Others indicated support but wanted to remain anonymous.

At the next board meeting, the Register's cartoonist was scheduled to speak. Instead, Anger brought the editorial page editor, the managing editor for staff development, and the political columnist. In lieu of the cartoonist, Anger said, he was “prepared to spend the next two hours addressing Ralph’s concerns.”

Anger denied that the paper had declined. It had just changed, he said. To support his contention, out came a copy of the Register's most recent Pulitzer Prize entry, a list of new hires over the last few years, internal Gannett awards as well as external ones. A lot of work had gone into preparing for the meeting. In a way, I was pleased that the editor had taken my concerns seriously.

My letter to the editor and the advertisement were disemboweled almost line by line with an explanation as to why both were unworthy of publication.

I was given five minutes for rebuttal. I said what I could, but realized it was a losing battle.

The next morning I submitted the ad. Within four hours the advertising manager called to say the Register would not print it. He gave me no reason other than it was the Register's prerogative.

My tenure on the board ends this September. I’ve learned a great deal, but not what I expected to learn. It should have been the perfect place to begin a discussion of the tradeoffs made between quality and profits, but what was put forward as a forum to hold the newspaper accountable became something else. All the editors really wanted, I’m convinced, was a feel-good focus group with an important-sounding title. Particularly when there’s only one newspaper in town, readers have little clout.

While I am not a journalist, I am a consumer of journalism and I care deeply about newspapers. Good newspapers help create open and constructive dialogue, and this is integral to the democratic process. Perhaps because of that, I find it incredible that the press won’t discuss what is arguably the central journalistic issue of our time with those who have the most at stake — we, the people.

Readers like me are unaware of the underlying reasons for the degenerative changes we perceive every day. And worse, we aren’t being asked how much we value reliable, accurate, thorough, and fair reporting. We might, for instance, be willing to pay more for the newspaper if we understood the problems and what was at stake.

To CJR readers I pose this question: Who will embrace their civic responsibility to raise awareness on this issue? In markets with no competition, like Des Moines, what are the options for doing so? And if the answer is no one and none, say so and let’s move on to create a new information delivery system for this democracy, because the current one is dying.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - Rice: Disaster shows 'ugly way' race, poverty collide - Sep 13, 2005 - Rice: Disaster shows 'ugly way' race, poverty collide - Sep 13, 2005

RACISM? CNN/USA Today pol shows Katrina aftermath viewed differently by race

Reaction to Katrina split on racial lines
More blacks view race as factor in federal response

Tuesday, September 13, 2005; Posted: 9:58 a.m. EDT (13:58 GMT)

(CNN) -- White and black Americans view Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in starkly different ways, with more blacks viewing race as a factor in problems with the federal response, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina because many of the people in the Louisiana city were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.

The numbers were similar on whether the rescues were slower because the victims were poor, with 63 percent of blacks blaming poverty and 21 percent of whites doing so.

The poll, based on interviews with 848 whites and 262 blacks September 8-11, had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points. (Interactive)

In a separate survey on Katrina reaction that was not broken down by race, a majority of those interviewed said they disapproved of President Bush's handling of the disaster. (Full story)

Before the release of the polls, Bush denied allegations that the response to Katrina was slower because the thousands of people stuck in New Orleans were mostly poor and black. (See video on Bush's response to criticism -- 2:28)

"The storm didn't discriminate, and neither will we in the recovery effort," said Bush, who toured the streets of New Orleans on Monday for the first time since the storm hit August 29.

But according to the poll broken down by race, blacks were more likely to blame Bush for problems in New Orleans, with 37 percent holding him most to blame for the fact that many residents were trapped inside the city after it flooded.

Twenty percent of blacks primarily blamed New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, 11 percent blamed the residents themselves and 27 percent blamed no one at all.

Among whites, 29 percent blamed Nagin, 27 percent blamed the residents, 15 percent blamed Bush and 24 percent held no one responsible.

Just over half of whites interviewed -- 51 percent -- said bureaucratic inefficiency was a bigger obstacle in the response than neglected domestic needs. But 56 percent of blacks blamed the domestic needs, such as emergency preparedness and infrastructure.

More blacks than whites said they were angry about the government's response to Katrina, 76 percent to 60 percent, and Bush is one target of their ire.

Among blacks, only 15 percent said Bush did a good job in the initial days after Katrina, and 36 percent thought he did a good job in recent days. The number for whites was 49 percent for the initial days and 63 percent more recently.

With federal agencies in general, as compared with ratings for Bush in particular, the approval for the initial response was 13 percentage points lower among whites and 13 points higher among blacks.

On the question of whether Bush cares about black people, 67 percent of whites said they believe the president does care, but only 21 percent of blacks agreed.

A majority of both races said there should be an investigation by an independent panel into problems with the government's response, with 88 percent of blacks and 67 percent of whites backing such an inquiry.

Poll results indicated that issues related to the Katrina response are likely to have more staying power in the black community, with 71 percent of blacks paying close attention to the story, compared with 56 percent of whites.

The reaction to looting in New Orleans in the days after the hurricane also broke down along racial lines.

Half of all whites said people who broke into stores and took things were mostly criminals. Only 16 percent of blacks agreed, with 77 percent saying the looters were mostly desperate people trying to find a way to survive.

Seventy-seven percent of blacks were bothered when the residents who evacuated were referred to as "refugees," while only 37 percent of whites had a problem with the term.

The poll was taken in the days before Monday's resignation by Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (See video on Brown's resignation -- 2:16 )

In the survey, 54 percent of blacks said Brown should be fired, compared with 45 percent of whites.

OBJECTIVITY: In Katrina's coverage, did we see reporter's feelings?

Society of Professional Journalists: "At last, reporters' feelings rising to the surface
Journalism seems to have recovered its reason for being. As in the weeks after 9/11, news organizations have plunged into the calamity in New Orleans, with reporters chronicling heartbreaking stories under harrowing conditions in a submerged city. Suddenly, there were no more absurdly hyped melodramas like those of Natalee Holloway or Terri Schiavo, just the all-too-real drama of death and destruction left behind by a monster hurricane. But there were striking flaws in the coverage as well. For the first three days, few journalists mentioned what the pictures made glaringly obvious: that most of the victims of the flooding were poor and black. And in those early days, when reporters were as overwhelmed as anyone by the disaster's magnitude, they seemed more intent on hopscotching from disaster scenes to news conferences than in challenging the tragically slow government response. Only when the looting, fires, hunger, illness and squalid conditions in places like the Superdome became overwhelming did the coverage turn sharply negative and the reporters' questions more aggressive: Where were the buses, the planes, the food, the police, the promised troops? Where was the planning for a catastrophe that news organizations had been warning about for years?

Source: Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post"

RACISM? "Found" photographer explains terminology

Society of Professional Journalists: "Some 'looting' versus 'finding' answers found
At least one aspect of the racially tinged media coverage of looting in New Orleans has become clearer. Chris Graythen, a freelance photographer for Getty Images, explained in a post to an online photographers' forum why two white people were described in the caption of one of his images as having 'found' items from a grocery store in the flooded city. Graythen's image of the white couple caused a stir this week when it was juxtaposed on Yahoo News with a similar photo of a black man who was described in that caption as having 'looted' a store. In a post to Wednesday evening, Graythen angrily defended his choice of words, saying that he saw the couple, who were captured wading through chest-deep water, in the vicinity of a flooded grocery store. '[T]here were other people in the water, both white and black,' Graythen wrote. 'I looked for the best picture. There were a million items floating in the water -- we were right near a grocery store that had 5-plus feet of water in it. It had no doors. The water was moving, and the stuff was floating away.' The photographer who took the other controversial shot, Dave Martin of the Associated Press, said he saw the person in his photograph and others loot an abandoned grocery store, AP representatives told Salon. But the 'looting-finding' drama promises to be the beginning, not the end, of racial controversies stemming from the flood of New Orleans. Most of the people who were left behind in the city were poor black residents without the means to escape. And though blacks aren't the only ones who have taken advantage of abandoned stores, they're the ones featured in repeated video loops on television news coverage. Given calls by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and others for looters to be shot on sight, it's no wonder that racial tensions are flaring.

Source: Aaron Kinney, Salon

RACISM? Use of "refugee" seens as biased by some Afro-American groups

Society of Professional Journalists: "Some media outlets limit use of word 'refugee'
The Washington Post today joined the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, the Tulsa (Okla.) Daily World and other news organizations in tightening rules on using the word 'refugee' to describe people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Associated Press and The New York Times both defended their use of the word today and said they planned to continue using it. Critics, including some African American leaders, have portrayed use of the word to describe displaced people, who on television screens have been largely black, as part of what they called a racial double standard that has characterized the response to the devastation. Some say that's precisely why the word is appropriate. Still others say the entire discussion is irrelevant, given the magnitude of the damage that must be addressed. At the Los Angeles Times, editors said the paper had decided to use the word 'advisedly,' but had not prohibited it. The Miami Herald was among the first mainstream news organizations to restrict use of the term on Friday, when executive editor Tom Fiedler sent out an e-mail that said, 'When writing about people displaced by Katrina, the word 'evacuees' is preferable to 'refugees.' In addition to political implications, the latter implies that the people cannot return, which isn't the case for all.' On Sunday at the Tulsa World in Oklahoma, city editor Wayne Greene told his staff: 'Saturday afternoon we decided to not use the word 'refugee' in reference to the evacuated people, even though that's a perfectly good English word that describes what they are. It's an issue that the Congressional Black Caucus has raised, saying it makes the people sound like second-class noncitizens. Under the argument that we'd rather switch than fight, we have used the words 'evacuee' and 'displaced people."'

Source: Richard Prince, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

PODCASTING/POLITICS: Bypassing the journalism filter: A problem or opportunity?

Society of Professional Journalists: "Politicos embrace podcasting

Like many 24-year-olds, Matthew Slutsky keeps his iPod close at hand. He listens to it going to work, doing errands, walking down the street -- whenever he is 'on the go,' he says. But some of the most listened-to names in Slutsky's iPod are not today's hottest bands; they're politicians and political pundits. Every morning, he downloads the latest 'AfterNote,' a politics newscast from ABC, and listens to it on his way to his job at a political consulting firm. Slutsky also listens to former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards and to Al Franken, talk show host on the liberal Air America radio network. It makes perfect sense that politicians and pundits are embracing the new medium, in which audio files are downloaded from the Internet to an iPod, MP3 player or similar device. Podcasting, many politicians say, gives them direct access to their constituents and allows them to talk to voters without a 'media filter.' It also allows them to reach an audience that otherwise would not have the time or inclination to sit at a computer for the reports -- particularly technology-savvy young voters, a key demographic in nearly all elections.

Source: Cynthia H. Cho, The Los Angeles Times"

DEFINING JOURNALISM: What is WikiPedia when 350,000 are authors?

Society of Professional Journalists: "News junkies find Wikipedia more than encyclopedia

The Wikipedia, which has surged this year to become the most popular reference site on the Web, is fast overtaking several major news sites as the place where people swarm for context on breaking events. Traffic to the multilingual network of sites has grown 154 percent over the past year, according to research firm Hitwise. At current growth rates, it is set to overtake The New York Times on the Web, the Drudge Report and other news sites. But the rising status of the site as the Web's intellectual demilitarized zone, the favored place people look for background on an issue or to settle a polemical dispute, also poses challenges for the volunteer ethic that gave it rise. 'We are growing from a cheerful small town where everyone waves off their front porch to the subway of New York City where everyone rushes by,' said Jimmy Wales, the founder of the volunteer encyclopedia. 'How do you preserve the culture that has worked so well?' From hot topics like Internet, sex and Hitler -- some of Wikipedia's most popular entries -- to obscure technical or scientific subjects, the site draws users attracted by its professed neutrality in defining controversial topics. The Wikipedia ( is based on a form of collaborative Web editing software known as 'wikis' designed for group editing, in contrast to self-published blogs, which are typically used for personal commentary. Some 350,000 people have contributed to the grassroots publishing phenomenon, which lets any Web user contribute terms, background context or just correct spelling for 2 million words or phrases in more than 25 active languages.

We will be dividing up responsibility for reading about the 25 biggest "unreported" stories of the last year --

-- bill densmore

Society of Professional Journalists: "Project Censored: The year's 10 biggest ignored stories

Just four days before the 2004 presidential election, a prestigious British medical journal published the results of a rigorous study by Dr. Les Roberts, a widely respected researcher. Roberts concluded that close to 100,000 people had died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Most were noncombatant civilians. Many were children. But that news didn't make the front pages of the major newspapers. It wasn't on the network news. So most voters knew little or nothing about the brutal civilian impact of President George W. Bush's war when they went to the polls. That's just one of the big stories the mainstream news media ignored, blacked out, or underreported over the past year, according to Project Censored, a media watchdog group based at California's Sonoma State University. Every year project researchers scour the media looking for news that never really made the news, publishing the results in a book, this year titled Censored 2006. Of course, as Project Censored staffers painstakingly explain every year, their 'censored' stories aren't literally censored, per se. Most can be found on the Internet, if you know where to look. And some have even received some ink in the mainstream press. 'Censorship,' explains project director Peter Phillips, 'is any interference with the free flow of information in society.' The stories highlighted by Project Censored simply haven't received the kind of attention they warrant, and therefore haven't made it into the greater public consciousness.

Source: Camille T. Taiara, The San Francisco Bay Guardian

TRAINING: CUNY will innaugurate graduate journalism program in fall 2006

Welcome to CUNY.EDU - The City University of New York: "The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism will open its doors in September 2006. Our rigorous three-semester Master of Arts program will equip students to work in multi-media newsrooms and report in specialty areas. Students will learn by doing in the media capital of the world, taught by veteran reporters and editors. Students will have access to modern news facilities, including nearby CUNY-TV studios, and news internships will give them a head start when they look for jobs.
We invite you to learn more about this exceptional program by exploring our Web site, attending one of our information sessions or by contacting our admissions office. "

ISSUE: What will finance journalism if all classified revenues go away? Sector Patrol: Craigslist: Stopping the Presses?

Craigslist: Stopping the Presses?

By Will Swarts Published: September 7, 2005

IF YOU'RE READING THIS, you might already believe newspapers are dead.

You'd be partly right and partly wrong. But as shareholders of major media companies such as Tribune (TRB), the New York Times (NYT), Gannett (GCI) or McClatchy (MNI) know, the mere debate has been brutal on stock portfolios. With the exception of E.W. Scripps (SSP), major newspaper stocks are down for the year — in fact, down from the start of 2004 — with declines ranging from slow leaks to plunges.

And with the surging popularity of, an online haven of mostly free advertisements that's expanding its reach every day, the downdraft could intensify. Craigslist, founded in 1999 by Craig Newmark, operates in 113 cities in the U.S. and 34 countries and attracts more than 10 million viewers a month. It runs as an online community forum, rather than a traditional ad-driven business, and that sets it apart: It charges only for job ads in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Everything else — real-estate ads, merchandise ads, personals, and on and on — is free. The site's popularity grows every day. And as its volume of ads increases, Craigslist becomes even more of a liquidity center — the eBay (EBAY) of local classifieds.

Last year, in fact, eBay bought a 25% stake in the company for $15 million. And yet profits still aren't a huge priority for Craigslist, which has only 18 employees and hasn't overhauled its business model. "I think many skeptics were somewhat nonplussed at first but they'll see that really very little has changed," Craigslist spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best said in response to emailed questions.

The trouble for newspapers is clear. Classified ads account for about 40% of the average U.S. newspaper's advertising revenue, according to Mort Goldstrom, vice president of advertising for the Newspaper Association of America. Craigslist is their kryptonite. It competes with newspapers essentially by not competing. Why would customers pay if they don't have to?

According to the Newspaper Association of America, total annual classified ad revenues have dropped since 2000. Estimates peg full-year totals for 2005 at $16 billion — not far off the 1997 level, according to the NAA. Even a booming real-estate market can't stanch the tide; real-estate classified ad revenues dropped last quarter for the first time since 2000.

Newspapers have fought back, but have had to sacrifice profits for market share. In 2000, Knight Ridder (KRI), publisher of 32 papers including the San Jose Mercury News, the Miami Herald and the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined forces with Tribune, publishers of the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Los Angeles Times, to buy, a job placement and recruiting site now linked to about 130 U.S. newspapers. In 2002, Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain, took a stake as well. Apparently, their online exposure hasn't been quite enough — in May, Knight Ridder made all self-placed, private-party, online-only merchandise ads free in 22 of its 29 newspaper markets. At the end of last month, the San Diego Union Tribune started offering free three-line ads to individual sellers of cars and other merchandise for less than $5,000.

"I think the publishers are making efforts to shift their business models, and they recognize that the Internet is more and more important," says Jim Goss, a media analyst with Barrington Research in Chicago. "The challenge is to get paid for it." (Goss owns shares of Tribune. He doesn't own shares of Knight Ridder or Gannett. Barrington Research doesn't have investment-banking relationships with those companies.)

Newspapers have long embraced the Internet, of course. There's nary a local paper without some sort of web presence. "I think that newspapers have been very quick to adapt online," says Goldstrom. "If you look at the top 10 web sites of any individual local market, you'll find that the newspaper [there] is probably at the top of them." Anthose web sites are selling plenty of traditional business-to-consumer ads. But according to a McKinsey study published this spring, the cost of an online ad can be as little as 25% of its print equivalent. The Internet might be a new platform for newspapers, but it hasn't been an especially lucrative one. To succeed in the latter, they might have to cannibalize the former.
On top of that, newspapers could lose nearly all of their classified ad revenues to Craigslist, which seems to be extending its influence every day. According to Classified Intelligence, an advertising consultancy and newsletter publisher in Altamonte Springs, Fla., Craigslist's monthly unique visitors total of 10 million nearly doubled in the last year, during which it has added about 65 U.S. cities and regions and expanded into Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and South America. Its five million new classified ads each month generate two billion page views. (In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it also became an information lifeline for residents of the battered Gulf Coast, setting up a special section where people can list contact information for people displaced by the storm, arrange transportation and temporary employment, and vent their frustrations about relief efforts.)

Gary Pruitt, chief executive officer of McClatchy, publisher of 29 newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Sacramento Bee, said during his company's second-quarter earnings report on July 14 that outside competition was a concern. "We are, though, aware of the Craigslist effect, and not just Craigslist, [but] other classified services," he told investors and analysts. He said McClatchy, like other newspaper companies, is working to keep its prominent position in local markets. That might be harder to do as Craigslist and other classified challengers localize their content and undermine newspapers' status as the dominant source of information for local buyers and sellers.

Craigslist's revenues are estimated at around $10 million a year, exclusively from job ads. As use skyrockets, the company has been mulling a minimal charge — probably $10 — for real-estate listings in New York, but has not made a final decision on imposing the fee. "We're still considering this," says Best.

Contrast those numbers with 2005 revenue forecasts from the New York Times, at $3.4 billion; Tribune, at $5.7 billion; and Gannett, which is expected to rack up $7.6 billion in sales, according to earnings tracker Thomson First Call. These figures represent a much wider array of business activities than classified ad sales alone, but it's clear that Craigslist's pricing structure isn't geared to compete with the media behemoths.

"Craig [Newmark] is the most important person in the newspaper business who is not in the newspaper business," says Sreenath Sreenivasan, dean of students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York. "He's certainly somebody everyone on the business side is talking about, and anyone on the news side of the business who's not is sticking his head in the sand."

It all sounds dire, and perhaps it is in the long run. But in the short term, newspaper companies have plenty of life left in them.

"The buzzword lately has been Internet, Internet, and that newspapers are dead," says James Walden, a publishing analyst with mutual fund tracker Morningstar. "Media pundits have claimed the sky was falling and been wrong before — they were wrong about radio and about television. [The newspaper industry] is a mature — and declining — business, but there's still value to be added. Organic growth will continue to be challenging, but these companies are still extremely profitable from both a bottom line sense and in their ability to generate cash."

"I think it's really too early to say that Craigslist is the model to be emulated, or that it's really the clear winner," says Rick Summers, a technology analyst at Morningstar. "On the other hand, they're amazingly successful, depending on how you determine their measure of success."

Craigslist's mushrooming traffic numbers reflect another Internet phenomenon — which is the same reason many local papers enjoy dominant traffic numbers in their own market. A site's stickiness, as the industry calls it, demonstrates that site users are creatures of habit, which both keeps viewers checking high-school football scores at the local Times-Review-Herald-Picayune-Gazette and buying and selling on Craigslist.

"When things are free, it's hard to provide someone with an incentive to switch," Summers says.

ACCESS: Can a public official be barred from talking to the press? If so, when?

Texas Fires Lawyer After Story on Rove

Texas Fires Lawyer After Story on Rove Talking to Post Reporter Called Violation

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 10, 2005; Page A09

A staff attorney with the Texas secretary of state said yesterday that she was fired this week for violating press protocols when she spoke to a Washington Post reporter who was working on a story about presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Elizabeth Reyes, 30, of Austin said she was fired Tuesday after she was quoted in a Post story that ran Sept. 3 about tax deductions on Rove's homes in the District and in Texas.

Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed yesterday that Reyes is no longer employed, but he declined to provide details, saying it was a personnel matter. Haywood had said late last Saturday that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency."

The Post's story reported that Rove inadvertently received a District homestead tax deduction on his Palisades home, even though he had not been eligible for the benefit for more than three years. Rove was eligible for the deduction when he bought the home in 2001, the story said, but a change in the tax law in 2002 made the deduction available only to District property owners who do not vote elsewhere. Rove is registered to vote in Texas.

The District's Office of Tax and Revenue accepted blame for the mistake in a letter to Rove, expressing regret that it had failed to rescind the deduction. Rove agreed to reimburse the city an estimated $3,400 in back taxes, and a White House spokeswoman said it had been an innocent misunderstanding.

Rove is registered to vote in Kerr County, Tex., the story reported, and he and his wife own two small rental cottages there that Rove claims as his residence. But two local residents said they had never seen Rove there.

When Post reporter Lori Montgomery telephoned the press office of the Texas secretary of state, the press officer was on vacation, and Montgomery was transferred to Reyes. The attorney, who spoke in two separate telephone calls, told Montgomery that it was potential voter fraud in Texas to register in a place where you don't actually live, and she was quoted as saying Rove's cottages don't "sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation."

Reyes said yesterday that she was not aware that she was talking to a reporter, that she was not aware the discussion was about Rove, and that she had explained in the interviews that an individual's intent to return to Texas is a primary factor in qualifying for residency.

In response to The Post's story, Haywood called the paper to say that Rove could register to vote in Texas as long as he intended to return.

Today, The Post ran a correction stating that Reyes had not been asked about Rove by name and that the story should have mentioned Reyes's explanation about the intent to return.

Robert J. McCartney, the paper's assistant managing editor for local news, said, "Montgomery, in both conversations with Reyes, identified herself as working for The Post." He also said that although Montgomery didn't mention Rove by name, she told Reyes in the second interview that the inquiries were about a presidential adviser who had moved from Texas to Washington.

Reyes said yesterday that she was summoned to a superior's office Tuesday and told that the office was upset about the Post article. "I didn't even know an article had been written," she said. Reyes said she explained what had happened and later was called back to the supervisor's office and told she was fired. "I was in complete shock," she said. "I said, 'Well, why?' They said I violated the press policy."

While she didn't know she was talking to a reporter, Reyes said, the press policy doesn't bar her from speaking with the media.

"The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she said. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. . . . Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."

She said she sent a certified letter yesterday asking that the matter be reconsidered.

LEAD/FOLLOW: Should network news have sex appeal and cover happy stories?,1,3481785.story?coll=la-news-comment

September 12, 2005 : Print Edition

Bombs away on television news

Want happy stories delivered by perky, perhaps half-naked, anchors? The future of network broadcasting may suit you just fine.

By Orville Schell,

ORVILLE SCHELL is the dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

I want to Bomb the whole building," CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves reportedly told his colleagues, as if his network's once legendary news-gathering operation had become an enemy outpost within the larger Viacom conglomerate.

According to a profile in the New York Times Magazine, Moonves believes it's time to "break the mold in news" and reinvent the network.


"We don't have a choice," he said. Why is change so essential? It seems that "American audiences don't like dark," Moonves said. "They like strength, not weakness, a chance to work out any dilemma. This country is built on optimism."

His solution, according to the Times profile, is to make his news programs more like his entertainment shows, with "better stories told by attractive personalities in exciting ways."

Moonves only half-facetiously declares that he is looking for something between "The Naked News," a British show ("It's a woman giving the news," he said, "as she's getting undressed"), and "two boring people behind a desk."

When this nation's founding fathers set out on their experiment in democratic governance, one of their most revolutionary ideas was that political power would be moderated not only by checks and balances built into the government, but by a free and independent press that would provide knowledge to the public and warn of pending dangers.

As James Madison bluntly observed, "A popular government without popular information, or the means of securing it, is but a prelude to a farce or tragedy, perhaps both."

It is increasingly difficult to discern the vision of Madison in broadcast news today, even though most of it comes over airwaves owned by the public and licensed to commercial outlets for a few hundred dollars a year.

And now, Moonves, one of the most powerful figures in American media, says that, because of poor ratings (7 million daily viewers) and aging demographics, his network needs to go even further and "break the mold in news."

But if avoiding "dark" becomes the criterion for broadcast, how will Americans learn about such stories as New Orleans and Iraq, never mind Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the melting polar ice cap or the dying oceans? If only perky, upbeat stories and shows make it onto the air, who will inform the public and play the watchdog role?

Most correspondents, editors and producers at CBS (and elsewhere in the industry) want to do serious journalism. But as the media get increasingly ratings-driven and profit-hungry, fewer and fewer news division executives support them in this effort. The result is that too many excellent broadcast journalists now feel discouraged, debased and disgusted.

Moonves, a businessman rather than a journalist, lives on one side of an ever-widening contradiction between journalism as a profession and as a commercial venture.

His responsibility is not to the public interest but to maximize CBS' bottom line for Viacom's Wall Street investors, who expect television to earn between a 40% to 50% return on capital. (Newspaper chains are expected to make only 20% to 30%.) These rates of return impress someone on the journalistic side of the divide as excessive, especially for businesses exploiting airwaves that belong not to them but to their viewers.

So the Moonves' vision leaves us with a dilemma: How will the public — which still gets most of its news and information from broadcast — learn what it needs to know?

The reality is that it is increasingly less realistic to expect commercial broadcast outlets to effectively serve two masters: the public interest and corporate bottom line.

Moonves may not like the tragedy and darkness of so much of the world because viewers change channels and CBS loses money. But the country still needs to be informed, and this can only happen — the rapidly evolving Internet notwithstanding — via mass communication.

Moonves has said what few others in such a position would publicly say.

And his comments remind us that a national conversation about how to protect, or even create, broadcast outlets consecrated to informing rather than merely maximizing return on investment is long overdue.

If his painful frankness could help catalyze such a discussion, Moonves might end up accomplishing far more even than returning CBS News to its glory days.

Monday, September 12, 2005

OPTIONAL: Take a look at Pacific News Service coverage of Katrina aftermath

Pacific News Service focuses on ethic media.

See giraffe profile at:

BOOK LIST: ENGL 328-31 Issues in Journalism, fall 2005


Here is a revision of our book list for this fall. IMPORTANT: Different
books will be assigned to different class/team members. No one will have
to read more than three books in total this fall. I ordered all of these
books into the campus bookstore last week, so they should be there in a
few days. You may save a buck or two ordered from Amazon, but the shipping
may eat up the difference.

None of these are "textbooks" with the possible exception of No. 5. I
think you'll find them easy reading, but stimulating in terms of the
issues they present -- much food for classroom conversation!

-- bill densmore, 458-8001


REFERENCE (no assigned reading):

1. Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by by William Strunk Jr., E.B.
White, Roger Angell Paperback: 105 pages, $6.85 on Amazon Publisher:
Longman (January 15, 2000) ISBN: 020530902X 9 COPIES

2. AP Stylebook, Goldstein Paperback: 420 pages , $12.21 on Amazon
Publisher: Basic Books (July 1, 2004) ISBN: 0465004881 9 COPIES

REQUIRED READING (we'll read much of these, so its probably worth having
your own copy, but feel free to share):

3. The Problem of the Media, Robert W. McChesney Paperback: 352 pages --
$11.53 on Amazon Publisher: Monthly Review Press (March 1, 2004) ISBN:
1583671056 8 COPIES

4. We the Media, by Dan Gillmor -- $15.95 on Amazon Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: O'Reilly; 1 edition (August, 2004) ISBN: 0596007337 8 COPIES

5. "The Elements of Journalism : What Newspeople Should Know and The
Public Should Expect," by Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel, $10.36 on Amazon.
Paperback: 208 pages Publisher: Three Rivers Press (December, 2001) ISBN:
060980691 9 COPIES


How media usage and form is changing . . .

6. "Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News," by David
T.Z. Mindich. Paperback: 172 pages, $17.00 Publisher: Oxford University
Press (March 1, 2005) ISBN: 0195161416 5 COPIES

7. "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution," by Howard Rheingold
Paperback: 288 pages, $10.88 on amazon Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint
edition (October 1, 2003) ISBN: 0738208612 5 COPIES

Use of new media by politicians . . . .

8. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised : Democracy, the Internet, and the
Overthrow of Everything," by Joe Trippi
Publisher: Regan Books (July 1, 2004), 272 pages, $16.98 on Amazon
ISBN: 0060761555

9. "America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media
to Take Power," by Richard Viguerie Hardcover: 384 pages , $16.98 on
Amazon. Publisher: Bonus Books (August, 2004) ISBN: 1566252520 5 COPIES


10. Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the
Danger to Us All, by Tom Fenton ReganBooks; ISBN: 0060797460; On Sale:
03/01/2005; Format: Hardcover; Subformat: ; Pages: 272; $25.95 2 COPIES

11. Wrong Turn on the Information Superhighway: Education and the
Commercialization of the Internet, by Bettina Fabos, New York, Teachers
College Press, ISBN 0-8077-4474-3 (paper). , 2004. 2 COPIES

12. "News Incorporated: Corporate Media Ownership and Its Threat to
Democracy", by Elliot D. Cohen, Hardcover: 319 pages, $26.00 Publisher:
Prometheus Books (February 1, 2005) ISBN: 1591022320 2 COPIES

13. "Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy," by
James M. Fallows. New York: Pantheon, 1997. ISBN: 0-679-75856-9 2 COPIES

14. Media Big Bang, Challenge and Change in the Media World (Paperback)
by Sangbok Lee Tackwhan Kim (Author) Publisher: Communication Books (2005)
Language: English ISBN: 8984995681 2 COPIES

15. "Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free
Press," by Kristina Borjesson (Editor) Hardcover: 392 pages, $16.38 on
Amazon Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1, 2002) ISBN: 1573929727 2

16. "The New Rulers of the World," by John Pilger Paperback: 192 pages,
$9.75 on Amazon Publisher: Verso (April, 2003) Language: English ISBN:
185984412X 1 COPY

17. "Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media," by Pamela Newkirk
Paperback: 240 pages , $20 on Amazon Publisher: New York University Press
(September 1, 2002) ISBN: 0814758002 1 COPY

Sunday, September 11, 2005

ASSIGNMENT: A senior editor looks at the future of news and worries


Please click to and read for Tuesday this piece by Merrill Brown, who was the founding editor in chief of and is a former executive with RealNetworks. He presently is a New York-based media consultant and was recently appointed national editorial director of the News 21 project, a part of a journalism initiative launched this spring by the Carnegie and Knight foundations. This commentary is based on a longer essay published in the Spring 2005 issue of the Carnegie Reporter. THIS article appeared in the Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005 edition of The Seattle Times, one of two dailies in Seattle, Wash. I have excerpted a series of questions which Brown poses in his essay. We will discuss these on Tuesday.


The Knight Foundation and the the Carnegie Corp. launched a major new "fix journalism" initiative in May. Below are two stories about it -- one fromthe New York Times and one from Editor & Publisher. Merrill Brown,formerly of MSNBC, who is at Carnegie now, is heading it.

Here's a link to the NYTimes story:
And to the Chronicle of Higher Education story:
Here's the Carnegie home page on the initiative:

-- bill


Who will cover lengthy, costly national political campaigns if traditional news organizations can't afford to? Who will cover international conflict or health crises around the world? Bloggers? Columnists? Organizations like Google or Yahoo that may be assembling news but are fundamentally technology companies?

Already news organizations are straining to cover the Middle East and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. What if over the next 10 years large news organizations and the public companies that control them move from just limiting their international coverage to abandoning it altogether?

This discussion, therefore, isn't simply about newspapers, broadcasters or public companies facing marketplace challenges. The questions raised by the young people abandoning the news go to the heart of how we'll learn about the complex world we live in and make informed decisions about its future.

Can storytelling evolve to include more interactivity, citizen participation, younger newsmakers and the use of music, innovative pacing and more engaging graphic and presentation elements? Is the growing movement toward citizen journalism the creation of publications written by activists without news training a notion inviting chaos and irresponsibility, or a new level of civic engagement?

At universities and think tanks, research on these critical topics is limited. It is time to tie together the disparate worlds of research, education and news in order to maximize intellectual capability and limited resources.


FYI ONLY: AP executive editor praises Katrina coverage |


This story, optional reading, quotes the senior executive editor of The Associated Press, on a visit to the University of Kansas, in her belief that detailed, eyewitness reporting of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina sped up the goverment's reaction. The story appears in the Lawrence Journal-World. The Journal-World is a family-owned newspaper with an excellent reputation. The parent company also owns the cable franchise in Lawrence and as a result has lots of money to spend on news coverage.

Check out this story from NPR:

ISSUE: What is journalism anyway? Consider NowPublic.COM


Please review this blog posting and website for Tuesday. Question to discuss: Is journalism? Why or why note? What problems does this sort of "news gathering" present for traditional journalists?

-- bill



Posted: September 11, 2005

NowPublic: Emergent Journalism?

By Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd, President/COO of Corante, is a well-known media subversive, and an internationally recognized authority on real-time, collaborative and
social technologies. His personal blog is A Working Model.

Following a tip from JD Lasica, I took a long look at, a very interesting experiment in social news gathering and dissemination.

The premise is pure swarm logic: individual contributors create news stories, and may hyperlocalize them down to the country, state, and city level, as well as adding any sort of tag that might be used to characterize them. Visitors can find leading stories through most recent or most popular views, or by searching by tags, keywords, or location. The use of tags is facilitated by the prominent provision of a tag cloud at the top of any view.

Registered users can additionally vote on new stories, increasing their popularity, and moving them to the top of the search results for key words, tags, and general popularity. In this way, the "front page" is laid out based on the collective social gestures of thousands of registered users. Note that in true blogospheric fashion, there are as many potential "front pages" as there are keywords and tags: a front page for every interest, passion, or obsession.

I signed to fool with the site, and discovered that I was user #4324, based on how my first story's url was structured. The user interface was simple, and I rapidly created the following piece, about an antiwar concert scheduled on my birthday, in DC:


I have already received 24 votes!

NowPublic provides a great level of control on the sharing of "footage" -- imagery of various sorts. I have not experimented with that element of the service, but I intend to do so.

NowPublic allows contributors to pull stories from other locations -- such as blogs -- via RSS. I set things up so that entries that I post at my personal blog, A Working Model, are now accessible for reposting at NowPublic. Here's the RSS feed selection interface:


And the resulting story, reposted from my blog:


For those not already blogging elsewhere, NowPublic provides free basic blogging, and supports RSS feeds from them. Oddly enough, blog posts are not automatically posted as stories, and importing through the RSS feeds doesn't work: NowPublic gives an error message when I try to import my NowPublic blog content as news stories (although I was able to import that feed into Feedigest, and to import the exported feed from Feeddigest). Also odd: none of the tag or rating architecture that supports news stories have been integrated in the blogging technology: there is no way that authors can tag their blog posts and readers cannot search via tag cloud, nor rate blog posts. A strange omission, perhaps intended to get folks to push their blog posts into the NowPublic news channel.

All in all, I am fascinated by what NowPublic represents, on many levels. As a student of citizen journalism, NowPublic represents a great example of the power that social architecture, well-implemented, can put into the hands of everyday people: the power to shape, channel, and make explicit the implicit dialogue that underlies news coverage. As someone tracking the adoption of social architecture, I believe that NowPublic demonstrates the key elements of all future, successful social media, in particular the primacy of emergent, bottom-up characterization by tags and the importance of aggregated social gestures -- in this case "votes". As the president of Corante, I have specific interest in the ways that social architecture principles -- like tag clouds and user ratings -- are likely to become a commonplace in the world of social media, and how quickly we at Corante should be adopting them for our own publishing.

I had a chance to speak briefly with Michael Tippett, the founder of NowPublic, and he stated that NowPublic is a work in progress, and that recent spikes in activity -- particularly around Katrina -- have accelerated plans to streamline and scale the implementation. His interest is twofold, I was s glad to hear. First, to support the NowPublic website, was an interesting activity in and of itself, and as a showcase of the design elements of the NowPublic technology, and second, to license the technology to others seeking to apply it in similar ways.

I can't make a judgment on NowPublic's likely impact on conventional media, although I beleive that all media outlets will find themselves going through "social shock" in the next few years -- being redefined and reworked by social architecture. NowPublic's experiment suggests just how radical a change that may be.

Copyright © 2000-2005 Corante. All rights reserved.

ISSUE: Should the government restrict reporters' access to New Orleans?


Please click to and read this story for discussion on Tuesday.

-- bill densmore


Is the Government Trying to Stem the Tide of Images from New Orleans by Threatening Journalists?

FROM: Democracy Now! Friday 09 September 2005


Journalists covering New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina report that militarization in and around the city has hindered their work and threatened their physical safety. We hear from two journalists who were reporting in New Orleans recently.

-- SNIP --

Tim Harper, reporter with the Toronto Star.

Jacquie Soohen, Independent film maker with Big Noise films. Among
her films - "Zapitista" and "Fourth World War," where she traversed the
globe - from South Africa to South Korea, from Argentina to Iraq -
documenting anti corporate globalization struggles.

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